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NanoString Secures Option from Mass General for IP on Protein Assay Using nCounter Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – NanoString Technologies said after the close of markets Wednesday that it has secured an exclusive option from Massachusetts General Hospital to license intellectual property related to a method of multiplexed protein analysis using the company's nCounter Analysis System.

Mass General researchers detailed the protein analysis method in a paper published this week in Science Translational Medicine in which they simultaneously analyzed 90 proteins at single-cell sensitivity in breast and lung cancer samples.

In the study, the researchers, led by Ralph Weissleder, director of the Center for Systems Biology at Mass General, used antibodies linked to DNA barcodes for their protein measurements. They used NanoString's nCounter system to quantify levels of these DNA barcodes, which corresponded to the levels of the target proteins.

"Through this novel approach, we have demonstrated a promising new way to measure hundreds of cellular proteins with single-cell sensitivity," Weissleder said in a statement. "Our plan is to further develop this method, which we believe could help propel drug trials and biological investigation in research laboratories, academic hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies."

The method's low sample requirements makes it amenable to analysis of fine-needle aspirate biopsies and potentially useful for clinical applications such as guiding treatment with molecularly targeted therapies, the STM authors noted.

The nCounter platform is a hybridization-based system that uses a digital barcoding chemistry for applications including gene expression, copy number variation, and miRNA assays.

The STM study "provides a compelling case for [the nCounter platform's] advanced capabilities in protein targeting," NanoString CEO Brad Gray said in a statement. "We are committed to expanding the range of applications enabled on the nCounter Analysis System."

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.